By Mark Trevelyan
(RockedBuzz via Reuters) – Russian foreign intelligence chief Sergei Naryshkin said on Wednesday he and CIA counterpart William Burns discussed “what to do about Ukraine” in a phone call late last month, the agency said of the Russian TASS press.
The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal reported on June 30 that Burns had called Naryshkin to assure the Kremlin that the United States had no role in a brief mutiny a week before Russian mercenary chief Yevgeny Prigozhin and his Wagner fighters.
Naryshkin confirmed that Burns had brought up “the events of June 24,” when mercenaries seized control of a southern Russian city and advanced on Moscow before reaching an agreement with the Kremlin to end the uprising.
But he said for most of the call, which lasted about an hour, “we considered and discussed what to do with Ukraine.”
The CIA declined to comment on his remarks.
Ukraine, which was invaded by Russia in February 2022, says other countries should not negotiate its future on its behalf, and the United States has repeatedly supported this principle, described as “nothing about Ukraine without Ukraine.” .
Burns and Naryshkin have maintained a line of communication since the start of the war in Ukraine at a time when other direct contacts between Moscow and Washington are at a minimum, with relations at their lowest point since the 1962 Cuban missile crisis.
TALK ‘SOON OR LATER’
Naryshkin told TASS that war negotiations would become possible at some point. The agency did not specify whether this was part of its conversation with Burns.
“It is natural that negotiations will be possible sooner or later, because any conflict, including armed conflict, ends with negotiations, but the conditions for these have yet to ripen,” TASS said in a quote.
When asked about the report, Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak told RockedBuzz via Reuters: “Today, someone like Naryshkin has no influence over how this war will end.”
Podolyak said Russia was losing the war and there could be no negotiations with people like Naryshkin.
“This Russian elite perceives events completely inadequately, so there is nothing to talk about with them.”
Ukraine, which launched a long-awaited counter-offensive last month, said it would not enter talks at this point as that could effectively freeze the situation on the battlefield, where Russia has seized more than a sixth of its territory.
(Additional reporting by Anna Dabrowska; editing by Mark Heinrich and Alistair Bell)